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Jax Shines unveils new action plan to improve quality of Afterschool and Summer Learning programs

September 22, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Jax Shines unveils new action plan to improve quality of Afterschool and Summer Learning programs

National and local experts will discuss the analysis of the local landscape and make recommendations

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., September 22, 2016 — Our world is changing. Preparing students for the workforce requires more emphasis on critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration and applied knowledge in real-world settings. Afterschool and summer learning programs can provide the time and experiences for children to develop these vital skills that are proven to improve academic performance, school attendance, health, wellness and behavior.

A two-year study of summer learning programs across the nation, conducted by the RAND corporation, found students that attended at least 20 days performed better in math than a control group after the first summer, and better in math, reading and social-emotional skills after the second summer. Math and reading effects were comparable to 20-25 percent of a year’s learning.

In Duval County, funding from the Wallace Foundation and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, and a partnership with national groups such as RAND, has allowed an existing group called the Jacksonville Education Partners to analyze and determine how our afterschool and summer programs can align with national best practices. This coalition, known as Jax Shines, includes Duval County Public Schools, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, United Way of Northeast Florida, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Jax Chamber and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

Researchers from the Jacksonville Public Education Fund undertook an analysis of Duval County’s seventeen largest free and low-cost afterschool and summer learning providers to look for patterns in enrollment, communities served, cost and funding, program focus and student demographics. Much of the data collected varied because every there is no common process for collecting and reporting data. Among the most significant findings were:

  • There is a combined $36.8 million spent on afterschool and summer learning programs, serving 35,700 children and youth at over 300 sites primarily in schools and lower income neighborhoods.
  • There is a need to coordinate program locations to avoid competition for the same students. In many cases, there are multiple programs in a single school, or neighborhood programs within very close proximity of schools with programs.
  • More than half of students participating in afterschool (55 percent) and summer (61 percent) programs are female, signaling the need to create more strategies for attracting male students.
  • There is a need and a demand to connect older students to quality programming. The vast majority of afterschool and summer programs serve exclusively elementary school age students — nearly three-quarters in afterschool and 60 percent in summer.
  • There is a need to create a common set of quality practices, a common data system and a continuous improvement process to improve our afterschool and summer learning programs so that they can in turn improve outcomes for our students.

“Every child in our city deserves a quality education,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “Students, families, and communities all benefit from access to quality afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities. I look forward to the continued progress and successes partnerships such as these afford our children.”

“It is essential that we continue to infuse value into our afterschool and summer learning programs as these programs provide key opportunities to boost student achievement, elevate positive social and emotional behavior skills, and close learning gaps between our students,” said DCPS Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti. “This data provides greater clarity as we continue to design effective programing for our students. I am thankful to this coalition of dedicated leaders who are committed to ensuring all our students receive the best education and look forward to our continued partnership.”

Partners in the Jax Shines coalition have created an overarching vision and action plan for afterschool and summer learning in Duval County. The plan has three goals:

  1. Create a shared framework for program quality.
  2. Create a shared framework for data quality and build a shared data system.
  3. Create a structure for coordination and advocacy.

Each goal aims to serve Jax Shines’ vision: To create a citywide partnership of excellent afterschool and summer learning programs that give all youth the opportunities and supports to develop the skills that enable them to thrive in school and in life.

One of the immediate results from the study is the announcement of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission that it will be redesigning its criteria and creating a new RFP for $12 million is afterschool and summer learning funding to incorporate the study findings and national best practices.

“The Jax Shines report is the culmination of a four-year collaboration between the Wallace Foundation, Rand Corporation, and numerous Jacksonville partners,” Jon Heymann, CEO of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, said. “This report will help lay the groundwork for exciting changes in our city’s afterschool and summer learning programs. Based on the recommendations from this report, The Jacksonville Children’s Commission will review its afterschool and summer learning programs in the coming months.”

For a full report of the Jax Shines findings and action plan, visit www.jaxpef.org.

Contact Charmaine Campo, Communications & Marketing Manager, at (904) 790-1178 or Charmaine@jaxpef.org for more information. 

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About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent nonprofit organization that works to inform and mobilize the community to advocate for universally high-quality public schools for all children. For more information, visit www.jaxpef.org or call (904) 356-7757.